Speltz, Alexander / Styles of ornament: exhibited in designs, and arranged in historical order, with descriptive text.
The Chinese ornament, pp. -Plate 195.
THE CHINESE ORNAMENT. the fact that Chinese art dates back into the third thousand before Christ there is no doubt. During their long existence, the Chinese neither received nor imparted any thing, but kept up a permanent and most rigid isolation. It is therefore only quite natural to expect that they would develop an originality which should have nothing whatever in common with the products of other nations. With the exception of a few Chinese geometric combinations whose employment in Ornamental Frame art lies near at hand, and which therefore may (Racinet). be discovered at the same time in different art- centres, this peculiar originality holds true. The general character of Chinese Ornament is remarkable for a decided lack of order and plan, a failure which may very possibly be due to the absence of a Chinese Ardhitecture. This absence of an architecture, as Chavannes de la Girandière says, lies in the very spirit of the Chinese nation. The conception of the sublime is beyond the reach of the Chinese understanding. They keep their attention entirely directed to an intimate enjoyment of their nature and to the petty art which symbolises it. Although the Chinese are bad at drawing, still they handle Ornament with such power of fancy and imagination, and with such a taste for colour, that their products, especially in Keramics, Incrustation, and Textile-work, are perfect examples of harmony and of effect, and thereby far superior to those of other nations, who have as a matter of fact taken them as models. The untiring patience, however, which the Chinese love to display in overcoming technical difficulties, often results in turning the artistic into the artificial. In the plates devoted to Chinese Ornament, special attention is directed to Keramics as being the art for which they are principally famous.
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